Rabbi Salanter once noticed that a fancy restaurant was charging a huge price for a cup of coffee. He approached the owner and asked why the coffee was so expensive. After all, some hot water, a few coffee beans and a spoonful of sugar could not amount to more than a few cents.
The owner replied: "It is correct that for a few cents you could have coffee in your own home. But here in the restaurant, we provide exquisite decor, soft background music, professional waiters, and the finest china to serve your cup of coffee."
Rabbi Salanter's face lit up. "Oh, thank you very much! I now understand the blessing of Shehakol -- 'All was created by His word' -- which we recite before drinking water. You see, until now, when I recited this blessing, I had in mind only that I am thanking the Creator for the water that He created. Now I understand the blessing much better. 'All' includes not merely the water, but also the fresh air that we breathe while drinking the water, the beautiful world around us, the music of the birds that entertain us and exalt our spirits, each with its different voice, the charming flowers with their splendid colors and marvelous hues, the fresh breeze -- for all this we have to thank God when drinking our water!"
We seldom realize how much work goes into making something happen, whether it be a cup of coffee or making an airplane. Sometimes we just have the disposition that it's so simple: why the high price or the fuss?
But what went into the coffee? The plane? Rabbi Salanter is giving us some enhanced insight that it isn't just the bean or the water that makes it so special. There is all of the love and labor beyond the cup that accounts for the experience. The hazards of being overly simplistic is that we lose sight of how things truly come to be.
The next time you partake of something and want to discount it, try and reach beyond your own simplistic understanding or expectations. Assess that the effort, time, and money that goes into making something happen or exist merits recognition and perhaps a price. When we oversimplify the efforts of others, we risk becoming numb to the details of life that make things possible.